They attended an English Language A Level conference at The English and Media Centre (EMC), and a week later spent the day at the offices of The Guardian newspaper.
The EMC, an independent educational charity, had invited a series of speakers to discuss the English Language at its North London development centre.
Dr Rob Drummond, Senior Linguistics Lecturer at Manchester University, kicked off the conference with an interesting, youthful talk about ‘urban’ and ‘ghetto’ language in the 21st Century.
One student said: “Coming from Pocklington, where students don’t typically refer to their peers as ‘fam’ or ‘blud’, it was fascinating to hear about the differing idiolects across the country. This was hugely relevant to our generation, as multicultural urban language is a growing field in our time.”
Interestingly, accents are now being determined by different genres of music – particularly grime. This was a fast-paced, engaging lecture with which to wake up the A level Language audience!
Next, Dan Clayton, an AQA A level senior examiner, spoke about how language is constantly changing and argued that we must allow it to evolve. Those who say that social media, music, American and the new generation are ‘destroying’ the English language were thoroughly interrogated and students had some of their own language prejudices challenged, too.
Language Research Associate Amy Bidgood’s more scientific lecture was filled with statistics and graphs about child language acquisition, based on the evidence gathered by the O-5 project. One of the most interesting talks of the day came next, from Professor Tim Grant, of Aston University, who explored how individuals’ idiolects are used to achieve justice in court.
The final speaker of the day, Professor David Crystal, defied expectation by making a lecture about punctuation incredibly humorous and engaging! The magician of a speaker’s vast knowledge, delivered without notes, was truly inspiring. Students were excited to know that they were going to be seeing him live back in Pocklington in only a few days’ time.
Students had time to explore the British Library before making their way back to Kings Cross with Mrs Hallam and Mrs Binks.
A week later, English Language students headed back down to London to take their places on a popular feature-writing workshop at ‘The Guardian’ newspaper’s central London offices.
L6 and U6 students benefited from expertise in copywriting, proofing and subediting over the course of the day. Their articles, written under exacting timed conditions, using the day’s news as stimulus, were impressively varied and sophisticated.
Creative writing under pressure is now a compulsory element of the A level Language course. The day taught students the importance of writing for a specific audience and the need to harness very particular aims when writing for a newspaper supplement.
Miss Lamb, Deputy Head of English, said: “It was a fascinating insight into how a 21st century mainstream media outfit operates and a very enjoyable day for all concerned. Thank you to the pupils for being excellent company and to Mrs Hallam for accompanying the trip.”